The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland today promised the fullest cooperation by the UK Government, including the Security Service (MI5) and Ministry of Defence, with the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry led by Sir Anthony Hart.
Sir Anthony was appointed by the First Minister and deputy First Minister to examine whether there were systematic failings by the state or institutions in their duties towards children in their care between 1922 and 1995.
Commenting as the Home Secretary announced the terms of reference for her independent inquiry panel into institutional failures chaired by Fiona Woolf, Theresa Villiers said that Sir Anthony’s inquiry is better placed to pursue allegations of abuse at Kincora boys’ home in Belfast in the 1970s.
Her decision is based on several reasons, including the fact that Sir Anthony’s Inquiry has already received a number of allegations concerning Kincora and has powers under section 9 of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2013 to compel witness statements. The panel chaired by Fiona Woolf has no such powers of compulsion.
The Secretary of State said:
All right thinking people will find the offences committed at Kincora utterly abhorrent, and if there was any tolerance of such abuse by people in positions of authority that must also be utterly condemned.
I believe that Sir Anthony’s inquiry is the best placed body to do just that and it is already planning to look at allegations in respect of Kincora. All government departments and agencies who receive a request for information or documents from the Inquiry will co-operate to the utmost of their ability in determining what material they hold that might be relevant”.
Northern Ireland Office officials have already met Sir Anthony to discuss how the fullest possible degree of cooperation can be achieved, and the department has provided the Inquiry with a list of files that could be relevant.
Read the full text of the Written Ministerial Statement.